Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, January 5: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

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Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, January 5: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

While the coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 350,000 over the weekend, more than 1.3 million people moved through the country’s airport security checkpoints Sunday — the most since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Washington, parts of the state are seeing broader backlash, many championed by far-right groups, against restrictions imposed in recent months to try to slow the spread of the pandemic.

We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world.

Click here to see previous days’ live updates and all our other coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington and the world.

Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today to give an update on the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch here:

India says it hasn’t banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines

India’s government had not banned the export of any vaccines for COVID-19, the health ministry said Tuesday, days after the head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said it got emergency authorization to produce the shots as long as it didn’t send them overseas.

Indian commuters wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus arrive at a bus station in Bengaluru, India, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Indian commuters wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus arrive at a bus station in Bengaluru, India, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of Serum Institute of India, told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that the company got the green light for its version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine on the condition that it not export shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected.

AstraZeneca contracted Serum Institute of India to manufacture 1 billion doses for developing nations. That vaccine and another developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech were granted licenses for emergency use by Indian regulators Sunday.

India’s health ministry said at a news briefing Tuesday that no agency of the federal government had banned exports.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

9:01 am

Its freezer kaput, this NorCal hospital had two hours to give out 600 vaccine shots

About the time Gov. Newsom took to Facebook on Monday to lament the pace of vaccine distribution statewide, one Northern California hospital was injecting local residents at a furious pace — providing an unintentional roadmap for how a mass inoculation program could work.

At 11:35 on Monday morning, senior staff at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County were holding their first 2021 executive meeting when the hospital pharmacist interrupted: The compressor on a freezer storing 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had stopped working hours earlier, and the alarm meant to guard against such failure had failed.

The doses were quickly thawing.

The Moderna vaccine is shipped and stored at frozen temperatures, and stays stable up to 8 degrees Celsius in a regular refrigerator for up to 30 days. But once it reaches room temperature, as it did in the Adventist freezer, it must be used within 12 hours. By the time the freezer problem was discovered, the vials had been creeping towards warm for some time.

Medical staff estimated they had two hours to use them before they would no longer be viable.

Read the story here.

—Los Angeles Times

8:41 am

UK hospitals stagger under toll from the new virus variant

A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

England’s National Health Service is accustomed to tough winters — and caring for people on overcrowded wards sometimes means moving patients into the corridor. But this is different. Now some are lucky just to get medical help as they wait in an ambulance in the parking lot.

Pressure on the nation’s hospitals forced the hand of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has plunged the country into its third national lockdown and ordered everyone to stay at home as much as possible for at least the next six weeks. The situation is worsening, said Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst of the King’s Fund think tank.

“It’s not hyperbole to say that the (National Health Service) is going through probably the toughest time in living memory,″ he told The Associated Press. Anandaciva said some emergency rooms have waits of 12 hours.

Johnson announced the tough new stay-at-home order for England that takes effect at midnight Tuesday and won’t be reviewed until at least mid-February.

Johnson and Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were needed to protect the hard-pressed National Health Service as a new, more contagious variant of coronavirus sweeps across Britain. On Monday, hospitals in England were treating 26,626 COVID-19 patients, 40% more than during the first peak in mid-April.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:25 am

Alaska trying to sort out confusion over COVID-19 vaccine for people over 65

Alaskans over 65 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccinations starting next week, a timeline accelerated by state officials following a weekend of eligibility confusion.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced the change Monday amid continued criticism over the way the state rolled out this latest allocation of limited vaccine.

State officials now say people 65 and older can schedule appointments starting at noon Wednesday by visiting the state’s vaccine website. People scheduling an appointment are asked to choose a date on Jan. 11 or later, officials say. Appointments will start Monday.

A state allocation committee last week made people 65 and older the next phase of recipients. But state officials said the vaccine wouldn’t be available to the more than 90,000 Alaskans in that group until late this month.

Over the weekend, numerous seniors including former state workers reported a confusing scenario where they were able to make appointments for vaccinations at pharmacies and clinics using the state website before they were eligible.

Read the story here.

—Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

7:36 am

Masks, tests, batches: Locked-down Greece swears in Cabinet

Greece’s new Cabinet is being sworn in Tuesday at three separate ceremonies to comply with national lockdown restrictions.

Following a Cabinet reshuffle Monday by conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, ministers were sworn in in groups of six, all wearing masks, and after receiving rapid tests for COVID-19.

A bottle of hand sanitizer was placed on a desk where ministers signed their oaths or affirmations.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:33 am

Netherlands called ‘village idiot of Europe’ for late vaccine start

The Dutch government came under heavy criticism from lawmakers Tuesday over a COVID-19 vaccination plan that has the first shots set to be administered on Wednesday, making the Netherlands the last European Union nation to begin vaccinations.

Staff members wait for the next in line at a COVID-19 testing facility of the Municipal Health Authority GGD, in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte imposed a tough lockdown Monday night in a speech to the nation ordering all non-essential shops and businesses such as hair salons, museums and theaters to close as coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands rise sharply despite a two-month partial lockdown. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Staff members wait for the next in line at a COVID-19 testing facility of the Municipal Health Authority GGD, in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte imposed a tough lockdown Monday night in a speech to the nation ordering all non-essential shops and businesses such as hair salons, museums and theaters to close as coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands rise sharply despite a two-month partial lockdown. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Prime Minister Mark Rutte conceded that his government had focused in its preparations on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been cleared for use in the EU, and not the vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which is the only shot so far given the green light by the EU’s medicines agency.

The Netherlands took delivery of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine late last year. But they have remained in freezers in a central storage location while the government finalized its vaccination plans, despite having months to work out how and where to administer the shots.

Last month, the Netherlands watched from the sidelines as other EU nations began vaccinations on Dec. 27 in what European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called a “ a touching moment of unity.”

Geert Wilders, leader of the largest Dutch opposition party, called the Netherlands “the village idiot of Europe.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:19 am

With only 1% of Californians vaccinated, virus keeps rising in state

After a relative New Year’s lull in confirmed infections, California posted a new single-day record for coronavirus cases Monday, logging more than 74,000, according to a Los Angeles Times tally of local health jurisdictions.

That is 11% higher than the previous record, when 66,726 cases were registered Dec. 28. The state is now averaging about 37,000 cases a day over the last week, down from a high of about 45,000 in mid-December. But the situation is still far worse than the beginning of last month, when 14,000 cases a day were recorded.

California also posted its sixth-highest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths: 379. That helped pull up the average number of COVID-19 deaths over the last week to 353 a day, the highest number yet.

After a brief New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day drop, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to break records in L.A. County, rising to 7,898 on Sunday — 201 more than the previous day. Of them, 1,627 were in the ICU, also a record.

The growth in the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU wards has been astonishing — quadrupling since late November.

In the meantime, distribution hiccups and logistical challenges have slowed the initial coronavirus vaccine rollout in California, setting a pace that’s “not good enough,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The state is trying to execute the massive immunization campaign “with a sense of urgency that is required of this moment and the urgency that people demand,” but so far only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated.

Read the stories here and here.

—Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

7:04 am

Quarantine corner: Diversions to get you through the day

—Kris Higginson

6:13 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Protesters listen to speakers Monday in the parking lot of Farm Boy restaurant, outside of Olympia, that is defying restrictions against sit-down service. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Protesters listen to speakers Monday in the parking lot of Farm Boy restaurant, outside of Olympia, that is defying restrictions against sit-down service. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Protesters rallied outside Farm Boy in Olympia (photo above) while table service continued inside yesterday, in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. Farm Boy has racked up more than $180,000 in fines, but “I stop keeping track because I’m not paying them,” the owner says. As Northwest restaurants flout the rules, far-right groups are championing their actions. And some of those groups’ rallies are doing double duty by spreading misinformation about the presidential election.

School nurses will be crucial for restarting in-person classes in Washington, but they’re in short supply, according to a new UW story that also suggests vast gaps in which children have access to medical care at school. See the situation in your district.

Ambulance crews have been told not to bring patients to L.A. hospitals if they have virtually no chance of survival. Hospitals are moving to rapidly discharge ill people to make way for a flood of new patients, and things are expected to get worse. California yesterday set a fresh single-day record for newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, roughly equaling the populations of Issaquah, Covington and Newcastle combined.

Infectious disease experts fear that a far more lethal virus will arise and leap from wildlife into humans, with devastating effects. Here’s how they’re trying to head off the next pandemic.

A Minnesota fitness club manager tackled a gunman who was worked up about people exercising without masks, prosecutors say.

—Kris Higginson


Seattle Times staff & news services